Keeping up to date with the latest government legislation is the biggest challenge facing businesses in the transport sector in 2005, according to new research launched today (26 January 2005) by leading cash flow specialist Bibby Financial Services*. A significant 87% of those surveyed cite this as their biggest hurdle for the coming 12 months.
This suggests that rather than improving business conditions in the UK, the Government is leaving transport firms tied up in more red tape than ever before.
In fact, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) argue that any benefits businesses may have felt due to the stability of the economy, have been counter-balanced by over-regulation. This finding is backed by the Governments own Better Regulation Task Force which recently estimated the cost of regulation in Britain at over 100bn a year - more than one-tenth of the GDP.
Maintaining current levels of sales turnover over the next 12 months also remains a significant challenge for over three quarters (87%) of transport business owners and managers, reflecting the impact volatile fuel prices, rising interest rates and the unpredictable property market are having on the transport sector.
Almost half (40%) of transport bosses, perhaps unsurprisingly voiced concerns about their ability to cope with future fuel price increases and 44% worry about possible interest rate hikes.
Despite the Chancellors upbeat Pre-budget statement, latest economic forecasts** suggest annualised growth of 2.9% will be seen in the first quarter of 2005 - well below Gordon Browns target of between 3 and 3.5%. A slowing economy is a critical issue for over three quarters of transport business owners and managers (78%) who are concerned about increasing sales in 2005.
Recruitment of skilled staff is yet another area for concern, with some 60% of transport businesses believing a lack of the right skills-base may hamper their firms success in the coming year.
David Roberson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said: The increases in fuel prices, coupled with interest rate rises have undoubtedly affected consumer spending and this is having a knock-on effect for the transport sector.
In the 2004 Budget the Chancellor pledged he would cut 147 business regulations. However, the day-to-day reality for a significant majority of small business owners and managers appears to be that red tape is getting worse, not better.
The coming year looks set to be challenging for everyone and owners and managers need to ensure they are in top financial shape, with a strong cash flow in place to weather any potential downturn.
*The research was undertaken in November 2004 by Continental Research on behalf of Bibby Financial Services. A national sample of 300 small business owners and managers were surveyed
*BDO Stoy Hayward output index November 2004